We were down to the final six designers last night on Project Runway: All-Stars, and for some reason I want to share my thoughts. Don't know why -- it's not like this episode was particularly wild or outrageous or something (that prize goes to Rami being sent home while Austin slid through with a look that would have been dated in 1967). But whatever -- it's my blog, I do what I want.
The theme of this challenge was that designers had to be inspired by the culture and colors of a foreign country: Chile (Kenley), India (Jerrell), Seychelles (Austin), Papua New Guinea (Mila), Greece (Michael), and Jamaica (Mondo). I really liked the concept in theory, but boy oh boy was it not the designer's best work.
Mondo: Mondo sent out a long but very tight black dress. From a judging perspective, it presented an interesting conundrum: 95% of the dress was great, but didn't read "Jamaica" at all. The 5% that did (green and gold chevrons down the otherwise open back) had all the subtlety of a sledgehammer and was hideous to boot. Mondo also came in for criticism for his styling and accessorizing, which I agree with -- I can see how the headband was meant to say "island" but to me it said "ninja". All these problems would have more serious had the competition been less dreadful, but that was not the situation.
Kenley: Kenley put out a short polka-dotted (surprise!) party dress with an asymmetrical flamingo trim. The good news is that I definitely saw "Chile" in it. The bad news is that I specifically saw "Chilean hooker" in it. For whatever reason, it just read skanky to me -- which is odd, because Kenley's problem is normally that her dresses seem too babyish to me, not too slutty. Still, it had some interesting elements and fit her country without being literal, which was much appreciated.
Austin: Eh. It was fine. It wasn't stellar. Austin made the mistake of picking the Seychelles because he knew nothing about it (always a bad call), and the Seychelles in particular has a flag that looks like a rainbow vomiting. That's tough to design around, and Austin really just played it safe -- a simple gown which only featured a few colors, which didn't offend the eye or anything, but hardly wowed.
Michael: "Greece frightening". "Ms. Greece 2012". This number had problems front to back (literally). The concept was decent enough if a bit obvious: a draped white gown with blue embellishments over the shoulder. The problem was that the blue embellishments look for all the world like a sash, which, coupled with the gown cut, really made it look like pageant entry. Meanwhile, the model turns to reveal a plunging back line -- so plunging, it reaches all the way down to her ass. Oops.
Jerrell: As you may be able to tell, I was hardly enamored with most of the offerings last night. But only one, er, "design" feels like it should have set off a civil rights march, and that's Jerell's. It was worse than a costume -- it was a stereotyped costume. It was a green fabric bunch over a highly embellished gold bustier dress, with a ton of accessorizing to complete that ever-stylish "Hindu barbie" look. Jerrell's problem is always editing, and this was not edited at all. Moreover, the shades of green and gold he used clashed horribly with each other, providing another layer of distraction to an already-overcomplicated look. And he kept talking about how "ethnic" India is. As opposed to? Ugh.
Mila: I actually really liked this dress. It was an asymmetrical black and red dress with gold trim (following Papua New Guinea's flag). The geometry was really cool, and the silhouette was interesting and unique. Isaac said the colors reminded him of communism. I say this is why I hate Isaac -- yes, red, black, and gold have a Communist vibe, but that's not all they say. If anything, the dress looks like a sexy play on communism (a Soviet analogue to the recent "sexy Haradi" photo-shoot in Israel). But the point is that Isaac is always completely absorbed in his own little world, and as a judge seems utterly unable to step outside of his personal aesthetic preferences. This show's enjoyability is directly proportional to the amount of time Joanna Coles spends talking and Isaac Mizrahi spends shutting up. Mila was sent home, and honestly, I would have had her win -- hers was the most unique, the most interesting profile, and did the best job of being fashionable while still representing her country.
My top: Mila (winner), Mondo, Austin.
My bottom: Michael, Kenley, Jerrell (goes home).